Don’t go M.I.A.

By Nancy Black

Missing in action, or M.I.A. It’s not a term many children these days know. But children of my generation know what M.I.A. means probably more than any other. The Vietnam War was in full force during my childhood. 

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I don’t remember too much about the actual war; I was a kid, after all. But I do remember wearing a M.I.A. bracelet. In the 1970s, a group of students started making copper and brass bracelets with the name, rank and date of loss of soldiers fighting in Vietnam. 

Americans would wear them in hopes of bringing those soldiers home, even if they didn’t know the name of the person engraved on their bracelet. It didn’t matter if you were for or against the war. People just showed an outpouring of love for those lost soldiers.

I started thinking about the M.I.A. bracelets the other day at my accountant’s office. He was wearing a similar type bracelet, but part of his was made of leather. I asked if it was a medical alert bracelet, stating he was a diabetic or something, and he said no. It was an identification bracelet he wears all the time.

My CPA is a runner, and he spends many a day jogging around White Rock Lake. He lives close by, so he doesn’t need to carry his keys or wallet. But it gives him, and his wife, peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen while he was out on a run, his emergency contact information is handy.

ID bracelets for runners, or others out and about without ID, sounds like a great idea to me. We might as well prepare ourselves by making sure someone, somewhere will know who we are when no one else does. But I certainly hope M.I.A. bracelets, and all the pain they represent, never become popular again. I can’t bear to think about going back to a time when we were losing so many of our young men and women. Today’s children should never have to know what M.I.A. stands for.